Leadership transition reflects University of Michigan's growing influence in Ann Arbor economy
Michigan Business Review, May 21, 2009
Stephen Forrest's ascension to the chairmanship of Ann Arbor SPARK can be seen as a renewal of vows between the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor business community.
Forrest's appointment is expected to be approved this afternoon at the economic development organization's annual meeting. He takes over for SPARK founder and former Gateway Computers President Rick Snyder, who's likely to focus most of his efforts on a Republican gubernatorial campaign.
Forrest - who declared last week that Michigan "isn't too big to fail" - has passionately and successfully called for the university to develop tighter ties with the business world. Not just Ann Arbor but the nation, too.
Michigan's state leaders are just now realizing that the state's research universities can serve as an engine of economic development. Forrest has been beating that drum for years.
As Forrest assumes SPARK's top leadership post, I'd expect him to encourage even further partnerships and collaboration between the business community and the university. "The state and the people of this state absolutely depend on the health of the universities," Forrest told me in 2007. "We realize we cannot idly sit by and not play our proportionate role in the transformation that everybody knows we need to undergo."